Market Garden

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Ursus, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. Ursus

    Ursus New Member

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    I've heard numerous times that operation MG was a big failure, and that seems to be true, but:Exactly what went wrong? Tactics? Logistics? Strategies?
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    The strategy COULD have worked, but the MAIN reason it failed was (1) the whole plan depended upon fairly quickly moving up armor and straight leg infantry to reinforce the Airborne Bridgeheads, but the ONLY way the armored columns could move was along ONE elevated two lane road (Rt 4 if I remember right!) because of all the flooded fields, and that made them pretty much sitting ducks for ANY even a FEW well sited AT guns or Panzers, much less any zeroed artillery (In other words, the line of communication was TOO EASY to interdict) and (2) the Allied intelligence was WRONG about the German opposition...from all reports just PRIOR to going, the Allies thought all the Germans had in the area was Volksturm (old and very young reservists) and static Infantry divisions (Horse drawn, or "fortress" troops) while in reality, JUST before the Operation went, the Germans made the area sort of an "R and R" area for some battle hardened Armored and Armored Infantry Divisions that had fought all across France to this point, and many with Eastern Front experience too. (THAT really caught us with our pants down!) They weren't at full strength, or had a lot of equipment, BUT they had experience, and didn't NEED much equipment to cut that road, and then defeat the different Airborne Bridgeheads piecemeal.

    One OTHER "small" thing that maybe should have caused us to NOT go, is that the ORIGINAL plan called for the port of Antwerp to have been already siezed and opened, which WOULD have made supply and reinforcement easier, but it had NOT yet been secured, the Germans were fighting hard to keep it, while destroying the port facilities, so it didn't really come "on-line" until MONTHS later....and this MAY have been the biggest factor in the loss, forcing ALL our movement of combat forces AND supply to use that one thin exposed road....It's tough to do BOTH at the same time, confusion (and traffic jams!)would reign supreme!

    So in effect, the whole operation proved once again that not only are Airborne Division/Corp size Ops TOO EXPENSIVE (In NO other operation do you PLAN for 50% casualties BEFORE the battle begins!) but that Airborne troops really are TOO lightly armed to hold out for any substantial length of time without reinforcement from "Regular" Armor and Infantry.

    Other problems have been suggested, that helped, such as the Armor assigned was BRITISH, and not American, which while the British were GOOD, they were also more CAUTIOUS generally than the Americans (You would be too if you had been fighting for 5 years while your "allies" had only REALLY been "at it" for MONTHS) and advanced up the road like it was a liesurely exercise, stopping every time they toolk a hit and waiting for the artillery or air or infantry to take out the opposition before advancing again, as well as being afraid of a few real and the many "phantom" minefields so they wouldn't leave the blacktop road, even to move on the shoulders! Plus the oft cited tendency to stop and "brew up" at odd times, even IF they were blocking the whole darn road, AND slowing down the whole advance! (It HAPPENED!)

    Some Historians think a Patton or the like ould have charged "damn the torpedoes" right through and MAYBE reached the Ist British Airborne at Arnhem, which was the key to the Ruhr Valley and the plains of Northern Germany (i.e., room to maneuver, AND cutting the heart out of German Wartime Manufacturing, which were the actual goals of Market Garden.)

    Another reason for the decision was the simple fact that we HAD so many Airborne Troops in England sitting idle after DDay, and the "Airborne Lobby" was pressing SHAEF every day to USE them for SOMETHING, while the Straight Leg Generals were arguing for committing them as regular Infantry, so that helped sway Ike too. Kinda a "Use 'em or Lose 'em" thing. Funny thing, possibly the BEST use of the 82nd and the 101st in WWII WAS as "Regular Infantry" during the Bulge...but that is another story...

    As it was, both British, and American Airborne Divisions, along with some Free-Polish paratroopers too, fought VALIANTLY and ALMOST did it on their own, but eventually ran out of ammo, troops, food, and many had to surrender, simply because the "rest of the show" never showed up.


    And interestingly, at about the same time, it was POSSIBLE for either the Third or Seventh Armies, or both, COULD have "thunder run" all the way to Berlin and ended the war quickly! There was almost NOTHING after Falaise between them and Berlin that could have stopped them! But there wasn't enough supplies, especially FUEL to do both, and Eisenhower decided to go with Montgomery's plan instead, (you have to remember Montgomery was ACTUALLY the titular head of all Allied Ground Forces, under Ike, so had a lot of sway, PLUS there was a lot of "Politics" involved, the British{Churchill!} wanted a BRITISH plan) and literally drained the US Armies in the south of fuel and supplies to support MG, so EVERYTHING came to a halt in Europe on the ground while Market Garden played out, which allowed the Germans time to fortify many rivers, the Huertgen, the Siegfried Line. etc, and caused MANY more casualties and the war to go on MONTHS longer than if we roll the dice in the South, instead of the North.

    Either way, it was a roll of the dice, and it came up "Snake Eyes" at Arnhem. Who knows what could have happened in the South?


    AND served as the death knell for ALL Airborne Operations of Division size or larger...which is ONE of the reasons we only HAVE one true Airborne Division today...SMALLER surgical Airborne Ops for SPECIFIC small scale objectives work, IF supported quickly enough by "conventional" forces, but we didn't learn it until Market Garden.


    The Germans learned it at Crete.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2006
  3. Ursus

    Ursus New Member

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    thanks for taking the time to explain. Now I do understand.
  4. So could Patton had Ike let him after Cobra, Polish, but that would have too deeply offended "Mongomery of Alamein" and British imperial sensibilities. :D When Patton reached the Siegfried line it was an empty shell. I still think that if Monty's fuel had been cut down and given to Patton, the war would have ended in 1944, or very early in 1945.
  5. Ursus

    Ursus New Member

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    Quite possible.
  6. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    As of 01 September 1944 General Eisenhower took direct command of all allied ground forces in the European theater (which did not include Italy and the Med).

    The Allied Airborne Army was a theater asset. Several airborne ops had been planned and canceled. As Polish said there was a great clamor to get these highly trained forces into action.

    The great port of Antwerp had been captured prior to Market Garden. But the approaches were still held by the Germans. With out control of the approaches the port was useless.

    It has been said that the forces used for Market Garden would have been better utilized in clearing the approaches to Antwerp. This would have been a less flashy campaign, but would have improved the allied supply situation immensely. The area was cleared but this would have happened quicker if more forces were used.

    Polish, in September 1944 the Western Allies were still a long way from Berlin, and hadn't even crossed the Rhine yet. A "thunder run" by Patton's Third Army or any other Allied formation would have been cur off at the base and destroyed.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2006
  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    MAYBE, 17th, but then again maybe not. The Germans in the west came really close to ALL getting bagged at Falaise, and probably WOULD have if Montgomery gets off his butt and closes the gap from the North as per the plan, but he never was one to move too fast unless he had OVERWHELMING superiority, plus it WASN'T "his" plan, plus it WAS thrown together pretty fast to "sieze the moment," and he usually needed WEEKS to plan ANYTHING, plus there was that old "stop for a few for a brew up" problem with the Brits the whole war.

    But just about EVERYTHING they pulled out of the Falaise Gap was what they had eventually at Arnhem which stopped him, there really WASN'T anything the Germans could have used to counterattack and cut off a thrust by Patton at that time...and in Berlin at the time they REALLY only had extensive AA defenses, nothing fortified against ground assault....the ONLY real problem besides fuel (but I think they would have made it IF they strip Monty if you figure the numbers) was getting the 8th AF to play ball...the 9th still didn't have many airfields up yet in France, so Patton would have run out of tac air support UNLESS the 8th gives up some long range escort and has them "in the weeds" for him, which is probably doubtful considering they still thought they could win the war alone with strategic bombing at that point...


    With ENOUGH tac air covering the flanks, that was JUST the doctrine the US Armored Force had TRAINED for, but without it, they would have been vulnerable to what you said.

    But I guess, besides getting accused of playing useless "What if History,";) we already KNOW Market Garden was a gamble, and it FAILED...what WOULD have happened if we roll the dice and do it in the south instead? I dunno, MAYBE it works!


    But my biggest point that gets overlooked, is the M4 Sherman, the M2/M3 Halfttracks, and the Dodge and Studebaker deuce and a halfs were the ONLY machines in the WORLD that could have done it without wholesale break downs after 300 miles or so, which is a big deal....NO German would have EVER contemplated THAT much of an advance, their equipment, ESPECIALLY the new Panthers and Tigers, was so unreliable on extended road marches, so they WOULD have been completely surprised....it COULD have been done, and WAS considered....
  8. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    Polish, I hope no one ever accuses us of playing "ify" history, I don't think I could live with the :eek: shame:eek: !
  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I actually enjoy it immensely, 17th, at least that's the ONE form of History argument in which I CAN'T be proved wrong....:cool:

    And that argument about SHAEF even contemplating a run on Berlin is one of my argumen for the M4/M4A1 tanks...I maintain that ANY other country with ANY other contemporary tank in the SAME situation would not, COULD NOT even THINK about it. There is ONLY one tank that COULD have made it with ENOUGH of them still "up" at the end of the run to have still been effective in the assault at the end....the Sherman.

    ALL other tanks, INCLUDING the T-34 measured their tread life in HUNDREDS of miles, while the Sherman was estimated to be 2000-2500 miles....mechanically, anyway, IF it had the fuel, it WOULD have made it....ALONG with the 105 SP Howitzers, M10 TDs, and the M2/M3 Half tracks with the Infantry in them, plus all those Dodges and Studebakers carrying the fuel, food, and ammo...whether all those female staffed Luftwaffe 88mm AA guns around Berlin would have let them in is another matter....:cool: ;)
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2006
  10. And if frogs had wings, Polish, they wouldn't bump their butts when they jump. :eek: :D :p

    You overlook the fact, Polish, that once the Shermans got there, if they did, an assumption I seriously question considering the German skill with AT mines and AT guns, they wouldn't have had the infantry support necessary to do much more than blast away furtively at a few German machine gun emplacements with that puny 75mm cannon they carried. Lord help them if they ran up against dug-in Tiger IIs or Panthers. :eek: The Germans still had considerable numbers of those, ones they later used in the Battle of the Bulge. Tanks don't take cities, the "poor bloody infantry" does that, else the Russians (and Germans!) would have used them at Stalingrad instead of slugging it out hand to hand as they did. :D ;) :p
  11. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    You missed the details in the last post, PS!:) They WOULD have had infantry, AND artillery with them!

    First, the 105mm SPGs AND the M10 TDs with the HV 76mm were essentially the same high reliability chassis as the Sherman. Heck, they might have even taken along a few M12 155mm SPGs for shiites and giggles...;)

    Second, the accompanying Infantry would be in the highly reliable M2/M3 H/Ts and Dodge and Studebaker, with a few Ford, GMS, and Mack trucks thrown in to boot!

    AND there were NO Tigers and Panthers available for them, all that were in France/Western Germany were either destroyed. captured after Falaise, or were what was at Arnhem for "Rest and Refit." MAYBE they could have withdrawn some from the Eastern Front in time, and SHIPPED them via RAIL to Berlin (fat chance, the 8th would have done SOMETHING to support Patton, even if just to take out the RRs and marshalling yards) because we KNOW they would never be able to make the road march...:cool: but maybe THEN the Russians attack through the now weakened front on their OWN accelerated pace to Berlin....

    Really, the ONLY thing they would have had to stop him was the Luftwaffe Flak belt of 88s and Volkssturm....

    It PROBABLY would have been virtually unopposed EXCEPT for watching the fuel guage....

    No it MIGHT have worked, and Herr Schicklegruber MAY have been captured before he takes the coward's way out...and Berlin virtually is demolished....
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  12. How can you say the Germans had no tanks, Polish???? The badly planned boondoggle called Market Garden was staged in mid-September 1944. Three months later, almost to the day, hundreds of German tanks were rumbling merrily through the Ardennes Forest headed for the port of Antwerp in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Where did these "non-existant" tanks come from? Are you suggesting that the Germans built them, trained their crews, and fielded them all within 90 days? I hardly think so! :eek: German panzer and troop strength in late 1944 was still MUCH greater than the Allies believed, as they found out the hard way in December. I agree, the Luftwaffe was done for, but not the Wehrmacht, not until that final role of the dice in December. :D :p
  13. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    First of all, you seem surprised that MUCH of the Panzertruppen that was engaged in the Bulge HAD been raised and trained and equipped in LESS than 90 days, and the forces were only built AROUND a SMALL cadre of experienced crews and officers drawn from the Russian Front! That is EXACTLY what happened!

    You can read MANY accounts about that on the German side, especially Joachim Piepper, with the lamentations about the "new" Panzertruppen" being nothing like the OLD, and it ALSO accounts for a LOT of the breakdowns and surrendered tanks, because of the lack of fuel, not ONLY had most of the tanks been literally driven from the factories to the RR head, then shipped into battle with no "break in," and their "new" crews had had little or no training in them! Even many old hand US Tankers (That is ONE of the reasons our tankers shined, even WITH what you consider "inferior" equipment, we had MANY experienced tank crews at this stage that had fought the whole war to this point and SURVIVED, the Germans had FEW, and virtually ALL of them were in the East!) with experience from Africa said if the troopers of the AFRIKA KORP were driving those "new and improved" Tigers and Panthers at the Bulge instead of 18 year old fuzzy faced recruits, it might have turned out differently.

    The Werhmacht in the West WAS "virtually" destroyed after Falaise, (WOULD have been COMPLETELY destroyed if Monty pushes south faster and closes the Gap!) It WAS all there was in the West! The "Battle of the Falaise Pocket" IF the door got shot quite possibly would have been the battle that ENDED THE WAR, and would have been a name we all remember. As it is, it's one of those great "skin of their teeth" escapes, (followed by a Phoenix-like rise out of the ashes of a "new" Werhmacht, but really only capable of static defense, which unfortunately we gave them the time to prepare after losing at Arnhem and having to build up ourselves!)and the war went on!

    Why do you THINK "Tank vs. Tank" battles in the west were SO RARE???? ESPECIALLY when Patton raced across France virtually unooposed, with WIDE OPEN flanks???? The terrain SHOULD have made it a GREAT theater for it, except for all thoise damm RIVERS:cool: :cool:

    The Germans HAD NO TANKS TO FACE HIM. Stopping him in mid-stride to support Monty's "pipe dream" was a mistake.

    Plus remember, "Strategic Bombing" NEVER shut down German Industrial production, in fact production figures ROSE. WHY is it inconceivable to you that virtually ALL the tanks committed at the Bulge were NEW?????? They WERE.......
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  14. There is some truth to that, Polish, with regard to the ground troops, but you exaggerate I think, insofar as the tanks are concerned. Actually, there was a condiderable force of highly experienced and well-trained Panzertruppen in that engagement. The 6th SS Panzer Army, the 1st SS Panzer Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler, as well as the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, all under command of Sepp Dietrich, were engaged. Young troopers they may have been, but these were SS troops. They got the best of everything in the German military, equipment as well as training. The primary shortage the Germans experienced, as you suggest, was in fuel. They had relatively little and that is primarily what beat them in the end.
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    But that is my POINT, these UNITS were but a SHELL of what they were! MOST SS units at THIS stage of the war were staffed by FOREIGNERS. There were even recorded instances where JEWS were allowed to fight with the SS at the end of the war! They were a FAR cry from the "Aryan Blonde-Blue Eyed Supermen" the world was brought to believe they were, because they were "advertised" as such, and just may have well BEEN, (but probably even then WEREN'T) in 1940!

    While the UNITS were old, the MEN AND EQUIPMENT were virtually brand-new and untried, built around SMALL experienced cadres.

    Heck, Hitler even recreated the 6th ARMY, after the entire ORIGINAL 6th army was captured or destroyed at Stalingrad!


    Germany used the "wave" method to make new units, but to also replace losses in existing units, so Units even with over 100% losses were reconstituted with new recruits. Some units in the course of the war suffered 500%+ casualties, meaning they were TOTALLY reconstituted over 5 times! And some were even MORE. "The "Best and Brightest" (actually, the most "ideologically pure") were grabbed for the SS in the FIRST waves of 38 through 40, by the time they got to the 17th wave or beyond they were all gone, which is WHEN Himmler introduced the foreigners to the SS-Turks, Slavs, even Russians and Jews! By the end of the War, the SS was REALLY the "Nazi Foreign Legion!"



    It wasn't like the Russians, where a "Conscript" unit was like a round of ammo, to be expended, and when it got to be about 30% strength, take the leftovers (i.e., "survivors" and their equipment) and incorporate it into another "Conscript" unit that was only at about 50% but had fought well, and call the "new" unit "Guards."
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  16. The cadre system is nothing new, Polish. In fact, we used it as well throughout the war! That does not mean that the units used in the Bulge were untrained baboons! :D In point of fact, the SS Panzer Hitlerjungend was composed of the most fanatical and well-trained troops in Germany, and while I certainly do not condone their commission of many atrocities during the Bulge--for which some of them were later rightfully shot by the Allies, I might add--they fought quite effectively.

    You argue that "the MEN AND EQUIPMENT were virtually brand-new and untried." Well, so were a great many of our own troops, especially the ones in the Ardennes sector; that is true of any army. As for equipment, much of it may well have been new, but it was not "untried." Most of the tanks they used were proven designs, not the latest Panthers. They only had a few of those.

    No, I can't and do not argue that Operation Wacht Am Rhein was a good gamble; it wasn't. Hitler expended his last reserves in that attempt, and his generals opposed its launching. When it failed, Germany was done. Had those reserves been used more judiciously and attritionally, I suspect the war would have continued for at least another 6 months beyond May 1945. Indeed, even if the attempt had succeeded in taking Antwerp--which was its goal--it would have, at most, delayed the Allied advance for a time, not stopped it. By mid-1944 the Third Reich was doomed. Hitler's primary goal in launching the operation was to force the Allies into a peace separate from the Soviets. That was simply not in the cards, and was nothing more than another of Hitler's many delusions.
  17. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Now, PS, I NEVER said anything like "Untrained Baboons!" (Although, I will have to remember THAT one....;) )

    But if you REALLY check it out, at THAT time of the war OUR tankers were VASTLY superior to ANYTHING the Germans had, man for man, 'SS" not withstanding!

    We had MANY more "experienced" tankers proportionately in our Armored Divisions than the Germans did, in 1944. MOST of the "Panzertruppen" that were the ENVY of the entire WORLD in 1939 through 1941 were DEAD, or in PRISON CAMPS in North Carolina, or GULAGS or unmarked graves in Russia!

    The fact is they were bled WHITE in Russia, and about the ONLY "Afika Korps" veterans to ESCAPE Tunisia were Kesslring and Rommel!!!

    While NOT "untrained babboons," per SE:cool: ;) :p ...they WERE predominently VERY young, recently trained, inexperienced, enlisted men with only a SCATTERING of experienced veteran OFFICERS and a FEW non-coms that had even been in BATTLE, IF they were lucky, when they were committed in the Ardennes! ONE of the reasons OKW (or whatever the OTHER OK something!) did NOT support the offensive is because they KNEW "the last of the reserves" was only capable of STATIC defense, for which MOST of it had only been trained, with LITTLE or no training on OFFENSIVE movement!

    And the "New" Panther (actually the Panther was first seen in Sicily, where we thought it was an anomally) WAS the MBT of the main thrust, as it had been since Normandy, along with late model (i.e., NEW) PZKW IVs! Remember, the Tiger IIs were TOO HEAVY for any of the Bridges in the Ardennes, so were only used in the South of the Bulge, and played a relatively small SUPPORTING role in the whole offensive! (Which was a successful DEFENSE for Joachin Pieper at Nuremburg to explain WHY he couldn't have been at Malmedy!) Those propaganda pictures of the Tank riders on King Tigers during the Bulge were just THAT...they were NOT involved in the heavy fighting when those pictures were taken! That "famous" picture of the "tired, but determined" SS trooper with the belts of MG34 ammo around his neck staring at the camera????, that is in EVERY "History" of the Bulge???? (You've seen it COUNTLESS times!!!) STAGED. HE WAS NEVER EVEN IN ACTION AT THAT POINT.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  18. OK, I can't really disagree with that. By December 1944, man for man, our troops were far better (not our tanks, however! :p), and we certainly had many thousands more of them to call on than the Germans. Ike committed over 250,000 men to the fray once he realized it was not simply a spoiling attack. Still, though, they caught the Allies totally by surprise, which really should never have happened had our intelligence people not been so totally complacent. By and large, by that stage of the war, the Germans simply did not have the actual wherewithall to stage offensive operations anywhere in Europe, at least not sustainable ones. The Ardennnes offensive was totally dependent on two factors: First, on capturing enough fuel from the Allies to keep it going, and second, on the weather remaining dismal so that Allied air power was grounded. When the weather finally broke, the P-47s destroyed what was left of Dietrich's tanks, the ones that had not run out of fuel. The Bulge was a desperate gamble, but a doomed one from the outset.
  19. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Plus it depended on one other thing that surprised the Germans...the few "green" full strength US Divisions and the few weak "war weary" ones sent there to recoup holding the extended line WERE supposed to be easy meat...but while SOME broke, ran, and/or surrendered, enough held on tenaciously at Elsenborn Ridge and Bastogne to allow Ike to rush in the Airborne troops to hold, both at Bastogne, which got MOST of the press, but also at Elsenborn, (which didn't) to hold the Germans enough...to allow Patton to disengage from a PITCHED BATTLE and change direction 90 degrees and charge North right up the southern flank of the Bulge and catch them with their pants down right in the kisser going STRAIGHT into battle without pause, with of course, "Inferior" tanks which just happened to be the ONLY Tanks in the world which could have pulled THAT "winter road march" off THAT fast and THAT far in 48 hours:cool: :cool: ;) :p (Not even COUNTING that AFTER he relieved Bastogne, those SAME inferior M4s went RIGHT ON counterattacking EAST....again with NO pause...;) ) NO "superior" GERMAN tank could have done ANY of that.....:p

    The P47s just "cleaned up." Patton's M4s Hammering on the 101st's Anvil at Bastogne is what beat them....
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  20. Oh? Then how might you explain Poland in September 1939, North Africa in 1942 under Rommel's guidance, and the Russian campaign until the winter of 1943 when German supply lines became too long? :D :p And indeed, let's not forget Kaserine Pass! :D

    German tanks WERE superior, in the most critical categories, to anything the Allies fielded up until the very end of the war when the Americans finally produced the M26 Pershing with its 90mm main gun and a decent thickness of armor. German armor was heavier and slightly slower, that is true, but it had the advantage in the areas that really counted: armor protection and main gun armament. The purpose of a tank is to smash things, either other tanks or enemy fortifications. German tanks could do that while the Allied tanks were best suited only to infantry support. Granted, that has its place, but so too does the ability to stay in a fight with enemy armor. The M4 was simply outclassed in that category. As I've said before, the M4 was an excellent medium tank for use as infantry support, but it was still a MEDIUM tank and didn't belong on the same battle field as German Tigers and Panthers. :D :p
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